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Some Final Images from Savannah

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Five years is usually considered to be a long time, but that’s not necessarily the case in Savannah. We returned to find the city largely as we had left it. Sure, there were some new restaurants, and a few additional museums to check out … whether they were new or had re-opened after renovation. But Savannah itself hadn’t changed at all. And we like it that way. Here are some final images from our return to this beautiful and utterly unique southern city.

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April 10, 2016 at 10:42 am Comment (1)

Reynolds Square

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At the top of Abercorn Street is Reynolds Square, originally laid out in 1734 as Lower New Square, but renamed in honor of the Royal Governor John Reynolds.

John Wesley

A stern statue of John Wesley, the founder of Methodism, dominates the center of the square. The British preacher arrived in Savannah on an invitation from Oglethorpe, to be the new city’s religious leader. He soon found himself in trouble, involving himself romantically with a young woman, only to later refuse her communion after their affair came to an end. She brought suit against him, but he fled to Britain and never returned to Georgia. The statue strikes an imposing figure, with Wesley forcefully clenching a Bible that looks small in his over-sized hands. He looks like the jerk he probably was.

The northeast trust lot of Reynolds Square was originally home to the colonial filature, where silk from the experimental Trustees Garden was be spun. The garden’s planters spent a lot of time in around Reynolds Square, and the names of the surrounding buildings reflect that fact. The Planters Inn is a 200-year old hotel on the southwest side of the square and the tavern on the bottom floor of the Pink House is called Planters Tavern.

We walked about Reynolds Square somewhat wistfully. Three months ago, we’d started with a list of 22 squares to explore and document, and this was the last one. When we’d began this project, I was worried that it would be too repetitive; I mean, how different can twenty-two square-shaped plots of land be? But each of Savannah’s squares has its own personality, from the monumental to the placid, and its own history. It was a true pleasure to get to know each, individually.

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All 24 Savannah Squares

Reynolds Square Savannah
Reynolds Square
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January 27, 2011 at 2:57 pm Comments (2)

Last Batch of Random Savannah Photos

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Savannah At Night

We’ve said it before, and we’ll repeat ourselves again: Savannah is a photographer’s dream. Whether you’re looking for images that are beautiful, amusing, haunting or just plain weird, you hardly have to try. Just lift your camera, click the shutter, and you’re almost guaranteed to have a compelling shot. We took tens of thousands of photographs during our three months in the city… here are a few of the better ones.

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Cathedral Savannah
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Riverfront Trolley
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January 27, 2011 at 1:13 pm Comments (2)

Madison Square

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Madison Square, on Bull Street between Chippewa and Monterey Square, is possibly the most monumental in Savannah. With a magnificent tribute to William Jasper as its centerpiece, Madison offers a wealth of things to see and do.

William Jasper

South Carolinian revolutionary hero Sgt. Jasper was mortally wounded during the Siege of Savannah. He had found fame during an earlier battle with the British, when he recovered a shot-down South Carolina flag and held it aloft in the midst of heavy fighting. The statue in Madison Square pays tribute to that event, and includes other scenes from his life.

Madison Sqaure’s southern flank is symbolically protected by defunct cannons from the Savannah armory. And a monument to the ill-fated 1779 siege, which cost both Jasper and Casimir Pulaski their lives, can be found in the square.

Around Madison, there’s enough to occupy an entire afternoon. You can visit the Green-Meldrim House, where General Sherman famously stayed during his sojourn in Savannah. With its cast-iron fence and extended covered porch, this National Historic Landmark from 1861 is a stunning example of the Gothic Revival style, and is connected to St. John’s Episcopal Church. According to legend, the ladies of the congregation, offended by the next-door presence of the enemy Yankee, rang the bells through the night, without pause. Sherman responded by having the bells removed.

Green Meldrin Garden

On the northwest corner of Madison is one of Savannah’s most famous residences: The Sorrel-Weed House. One of Savannah’s best examples of Greek Revival and Regency architecture, the house is the subject of numerous ghost stories.

Across Bull Street is of Savannah’s most unfortunate buildings: the Hilton DeSoto. An ugly, towering blight on the city’s skyline, the Hilton has loomed over the middle of Savannah since 1966, when it replaced the lovely red brick DeSoto hotel. Continuing clockwise around the square brings you to the most popular independent bookshop in Savannah, E. Shaver’s, where Jürgen and I stocked up on Savannah literature, during our first week in the city.

On the southeast corner of Madison is the SCAD shop, which is the perfect spot to hunt for unique gifts. And should you need a break while touring the houses and shops of Madison Square, you can stop in at the popular Gryphon Tea Room. With its high ceilings, cozy furniture and classy interior, this former pharmacy is a great place to relax tired feet.

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January 26, 2011 at 1:49 pm Comment (1)

The Lady Chablis at Club One

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Alright, we did it. We went to Club One, to watch the Lady Chablis do her thing. The show was too expensive and the lip-syncing performers were of varying quality. But the Lady was fabulous.

Lady Chablis

The Lady Chablis was the highlight of Club One’s two-hour long Drag Queen Spectacular. She waltzed onto the stage after five other performers had tried to entertain the crowd. As a measure of quality, consider one of the night’s early acts, a lithe black queen with an outrageous afro and a dress made of sparkling silver sequins, who didn’t even know the lyrics to the song she was lip-syncing. And that song was Aretha Franklin’s Think, which everyone knows the words to!

But then again, drag shows aren’t about serious artists interpreting great works of art. They’re about fun and drinking and outrageous lady-boy fashion. And with that as the criteria, our night at Club One was a rousing success. As the final act, the Lady Chablis didn’t disappoint. She looks as great as she did in the movies, slender and elegant, and her sassy, dirty banter was both hilarious and mildly shocking. She’s a true character and a natural-born entertainer. Don’t pass up the chance to see her in action.

The Lady Chablis – Website
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January 25, 2011 at 5:23 pm Comments (19)

Old Sheldon Church

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About half-an-hour north of Beaufort, there’s a place in the woods which has become one of the low country’s favorite secrets. The ruins of the Old Sheldon Church are found down a tiny road, in a forest of towering oaks draped in Spanish moss.

Old Sheldon Church

The Prince William’s Parish Church was originally built around 1750, but was burnt down by the British during the Revolution. It was rebuilt in in 1826, and once again met a violent death during the Civil War, finding itself in the path of pillaging General Sherman. Since then, the church been left to ruin.

But what ruins they are! Huge bricked walls with intact archways have somehow defied gravity, while a number of columns sprout from the ground as though in competition with the oaks. Scattered around the site are graves, some which are too worn to read, and other that have sunk into the ground. Within the church sits the tombstone of William Bull, who was of great assistance to Oglethorpe in the layout and development of Savannah, and after whom Bull Street is named.

Old Sheldon Church is a popular place for wedding portraits, for reasons which are immediately apparent. If you’re anywhere in the area, make sure to stop by and take in one of the region’s most beautiful scenes.

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South Carolina Hotels and Inns

Sheldon Church
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January 25, 2011 at 2:34 pm Comments (7)

Warren Square

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Laid out in 1791, Warren Square was named in honor of General Joseph Warren, a Revolutionary hero from Massachusetts who was killed at the Battle of Bunker Hill. Warren Square itself looks like a battlefield, in the eternal fight between the forces of preservation and development.

Warren Square

A hulking parking lot mars the western side of the square, damaging Warren’s aesthetics and rudely truncating lovely St. Julian Street, which is notable for the oyster shells in its pavement. Turn your attention to the east, however, and an entirely different picture emerges.

On Habersham and St. Julian, there are a number of splendidly restored houses, some of which were moved here from other locations. With its Savannah gray brick, the house at 420-422 E. St. Julian is particularly striking, as it’s so isolated from other buildings. Another nicely restored house is at 24 Habersham, built in 1797 by a plantation owner from Daufuskie Island. It hosted the Marquis de Lafyette in 1825, and later served as a makeshift hospital during a yellow fever epidemic.

Warren Square itself is almost completely nondescript. There’s a pretty yard, but no statues or markers of any kind. But with its location near the river and the beauty of the homes on the east side, there are reasons swing through the square… especially since you probably parked in that hideous garage, anyway.

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January 25, 2011 at 12:03 pm Comment (1)

Ebenezer – Home of the Salzburg Lutherans

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A weathered memorial stone in Savannah’s Emmet Park pays tribute to a group of Lutherans from Salzburg, Austria, who immigrated to Georgia in the 18th century to escape the persecution of their Catholic homeland. Under General Oglethrope, Georgia had become known for its religious tolerance, and welcomed the the Lutherans with open arms. Along the banks of a river to the north of Savannah, they settled a town which they would name Ebenezer.

Salzburger Ghost Town

We knew nothing about Ebenezer other than the text on the memorial, but took a detour there, since we happened to be driving by. Ebenezer is difficult to find, barely on the map, and we were skeptical about finding anything of interest. As we turned onto Ebenezer Road, a “Dead End” sign greeted us, which wasn’t encouraging.

But after parking at a church and stepping out of the car, we realized there’s life here, after all, and were swept into the arms of Ebenezer’s unofficial welcoming committee. An older man greeted us enthusiastically and introduced us to his town, which has become a sort of historical heritage site. There’s a museum dedicated to the Salzburg Lutherans, the Jerusalem Salzburg Church built in 1769, and an original log cabin filled with colonial artifacts of German and Austrian design.

Ebenezer Swan Salzburger

Ebenezer doesn’t exist anymore, as an actual, incorporated town. But in its early days, the Lutheran community had been immensely successful. The town even served briefly as the capital of Georgia, and was the home of a state governor. But the Revolutionary War devastated Ebenezer, and it never recovered. In 1855, it was abandoned for good and the few remaining residents brought into the nearby city of Rincon.

The history of the place is fascinating, and we loved stepping inside the original log cabin and the church, both of which are remarkably well-preserved. We spent an hour talking to our guide, his son, and another man who’s lived in the area his whole life.

Our visit to Ebenezer was a lot more successful than we had feared. During the trip back to Savannah, I reflected on how diverse my country truly is, despite its relative youth. I mean, we had just visited an abandoned town in the middle of the Georgian backwoods, founded by persecuted Austrians. It’s these kind of weird cultural conglomerations which really make the USA special.

Georgia Salzburger Society – Website
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Salzburger GA Church
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Salzburger Ebenezer
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Ebenezer Open Air Church
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January 24, 2011 at 7:04 pm Comments (6)

Orleans Square

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Orleans Square, on Barnard Street, might as well be called Parking Lot Square. It’s one of the spaces which has been most negatively impacted by the development boom of the mid-20th century.

Orleans Fountain

The square itself could be quite charming, with a large central fountain dedicated to the German immigrants to Savannah that was installed on the 250th anniversary of the founding of Georgia. But once you take your eyes off the ground and look around, the charm vanishes. The biggest blight is the Civic Center, whose backside and rear parking area mar the western end of Orleans Square. Five of the eight lots which surround Orleans are dedicated to parking. Another is occupied by SCAD’s gym.

Luckily, the houses which do survive on Orleans are beautiful, particularly the Harper-Fowlkes House on 230 Barnard. Built in 1842 in the Greek Revival style, this house is occasionally open for tours and also serves as the Georgia headquarters for the Society of the Cincinnati. This house can be toured. Another noteworthy home on Orleans is the Stephen-Williams House, constructed in 1834 in the Federal style. It’s currently an inn with individually-designed rooms.

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Harper-Fowlkes House Website
Stephen-Williams House Inn – Website

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January 24, 2011 at 3:10 pm Comments (5)

Crawford Square

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Laid out in 1841, Crawford is the only of Savannah’s squares with recreational equipment: a basketball court, won by the neighborhood after a 1946 tournament. Found on Houston Street, the square was named after native son William Harris Crawford, who was Secretary of the Treasury and who unsuccessfully ran for President in 1824.

Crawford Sq Gazebo

At one time, all of Savannah’s squares were fenced in, but only Crawford remains so. It’s also retained its cistern, from the days when Savannah’s fire department kept a station in every square. The fence, the cistern and the basketball court give Crawford a unique feel. And with a gazebo in the center and azaleas which explode in bloom during the spring, Crawford definitely manages to charm.

In the days of Jim Crow, when segregation was the law of the land, Crawford was the only square which blacks were permitted to use. It’s a historically black neighborhood, and today a quiet, peaceful one. It’s also the former home of the fabulous Lady Chablis, who lived in a house bordering the square, during her rise to fame.

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New Savannah Sqaure
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January 23, 2011 at 5:20 pm Comment (1)

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Some Final Images from Savannah Five years is usually considered to be a long time, but that's not necessarily the case in Savannah. We returned to find the city largely as we had left it. Sure, there were some new restaurants, and a few additional museums to check out ... whether they were new or had re-opened after renovation. But Savannah itself hadn't changed at all. And we like it that way. Here are some final images from our return to this beautiful and utterly unique southern city.
For 91 Days